Thursday, June 6, 2013

How we got here


How are you? Today I thought I'd tell you about how our "school" journey has been. I was schooled in a very traditional way- public schools/parochial schools followed by community college and then finished up at a major University. Yawwwnnnn....but, I most certainly thought that was pretty much the way everyone did it. Homeschooling had never entered my mind. Ironically, my mother first mentioned it to me in relation to my baby sister's education (we are 16 years apart). I remember thinking- "What??? But what about kindergarten? Prom? Buying school supplies?!" I was, quite frankly, appalled that my mother would consider inflicting such a horrible thing on my precious baby sister...never for my future kids, I thought. Oh! How we plan and God laughs!

Just a few years later, I would find myself the proud mother of a wicked smart little girl. I would, oddly enough, also be pursuing a degree in education. It was being out in the schools that convinced me that my child would never be in a school setting. Note, I'm not saying that all schools are bad, simply that it wasn't the place for us.

We started out as a more "typical" homeschooling sort. We followed curriculums. Worried about state standards. Slowly, I began to see that the curriculum frustrated her. There was no time to explore what really interested her. The curriculum didn't allow for further study of topics that she (or I) enjoyed.

Some sections moved too fast. Others too slow. I was irritated and so was she. School became something she didn't want to do, and honestly, neither did I. The struggle, the sullen face, the dragging of feet just weren't worth it. And those were  just my reactions! She became restless during "lessons", spent time staring out the window, lost from me. What was I doing? Why was I recreating the very environment that I didn't want her to be in?

A funny thing began to happen in my own head as well. See, I'd always thought that I had "liked" school, because, by and large, it was easy to be the "good" kid and coast on by. Luckily, I learn in the ways that most schools teach, and so good or good enough grades were very easy to come by. But, when I sat with my precious child and "taught" her, I began to remember.

The mind-numbing worksheets. The random rules that are necessary for smooth classrooms but death to a child's exuberant spirit. The bullying by children and adults alike. The false rewards of a star or good grade, often given for work that I knew I hadn't really tried at all on. The monotony of watching the same clock circle round and round every day, just waiting on the time to go home....for 13 years. Being treated as less than simply for being a child. Waiting, waiting for "real" life to begin. Sigh...I had repressed an awful lot of bad memories and feelings. I did not want the same for my child.

One day, we just stopped. That's it. Simple as that. Stopped. Stopped workbooks. Stopped saying, we will get to that topic later this year. Stopped the Hooked on Phonics that drove her nuts. Stuck with the Math-U-See that we both liked well enough (for math! We're not math people! This is the only math that has made sense to me, and I wouldn't use another program). Stuck with libraries, museums, and parks. Dropped what we "should" be learning at such age or grade. Stuck with books on tape/cd, reading aloud, getting messy with experiments. I got my child loud, active, precocious, hilarious girl.

I learned to trust that she would learn what she needed when she was ready for it. Prime example, reading. She loved books, books on tape/cd, books laying around, looking at books, listening to books. But reading was a huge struggle. She knew the sounds of the letters, knew how to blend, but it just wasn't clicking. She could "read", but it was most certainly not an enjoyable experience.

As an avid and early reader, I had a huge love affair with books. I didn't want her to grow to hate them. One day, I found Dr. Raymond Moore's Better Late Than Early and I stopped worrying about when she would "really" read. She was 8. At 11, she suddenly went from being able to read easy " I-can-read" type of books (think, Henry and Mudge) to reading Romeo and Juliet. It was as if it all at once made sense. She is almost never without a book now. I'm so very glad that I was able to trust her internal clock.

Poor kid, she's been my educational guinea pig! I've applied all I've learned from watching her learn to her siblings. Some have had no problem with reading. Others have struggled and then "got" it. Some are better at math than I ever will be. Some hate history, love science. Others are just the opposite. We simply supply all sorts of "cool" stuff from microscopes to magazines, and let them go with it. We teach them HOW and WHERE to get information, but we don't determine WHICH information is important. They do. We share what WE find interesting and follow what THEY enjoy as well. So far, it's been a remarkable journey!

What has your path looked like?

Warmest Wishes!
Bella & Sugar


  1. I really enjoyed reading your journey. Thank you! Your daughters and your journey sound so much like ours. However I am in the midst of what you explained. Giving up standards, workbooks, etc but bringing on board MUS. We also despise math lol. She is a lot like me in thatbshe reads writes and creates :) thank you for showing me we are not alone. God bleaa

    1. God bless :) lol smart phone :/

    2. :) Thanks for dropping by Unknown! Please, come back and introduce yourself! We'd love to get to know you. You've inspired a new post- i hope you'll look for it!